FIFA plays down World Cup ticket fears

ZURICH - FIFA is confident all tickets for the 2010 World Cup will be sold despite flagging sales for June's Confederations Cup in South Africa.

Officials in South Africa proposed plans on Tuesday to sell group tickets to companies and fan clubs in a bid to boost interest in the Confederations Cup, the test event for 2010.

"We have one concern about the Confederations Cup and that is the ticketing," FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke told reporters after soccer's governing body held an executive committee meeting.

"The culture in South Africa is to buy tickets on match days but the system FIFA imposed is more strict. We are working now on different policies.

"For the World Cup it is different. There are at least 28 matches of the 64 that are sold out. Definitely the demand is huge."

Valcke said two thirds of the World Cup tickets had gone to the international market, with fans in the United States and England buying the most.

Demand will pick up further once fans know which teams have qualified and following December's draw.

SINGLE BIDDERS

The global financial crisis has yet to cause any major disruption to South Africa's plans. World Cups generate 95 percent of FIFA's revenues.

"All is under control. All the stadiums for the World Cup will be delivered by December 2009 except one in Cape Town which will be ready by February 2010," Valcke added.

"We have not received a single call from one of our commercial partners... about a discussion on new payment schedules or the reduction of the contract."

FIFA's Executive Committee did not discuss bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in detail but president Sepp Blatter reiterated that he prefers single bidders.

Joint bids from Belgium and Netherlands and Spain and Portugal look to be disadvantaged with Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia and the United States bidding for both tournaments.

"On double candidature, there is a principle... that there should be a preference in associations bidding alone, and that double candidature should be eliminated as long as there is a possibility for a single bid to host the World Cup," Blatter said.

"Double candidature for the time being is not a concern for FIFA, it is always possible that these double bids could become single bids."

Blatter gave no hints on which of the single bidders was in pole position.